Reuse-to-Fuse for HDPE pipe: maximising your workforce

Refuse-to-Fuse in action.

A new mechanical pipe joining solution from Victaulic eliminates the need for installer certification

High density polyethylene (HDPE) is the fastest-growing piping material in mining applications, with adoption expected to increase by 5 per cent per year. HDPE is light-weight, corrosion-resistant, flexible, long-lasting and economical, so it’s fast becoming the preferred material for buried and outdoor exposed pipelines on mining sites around Australia.

HDPE poly has been available for over 50 years and until recently butt fusion and electrofusion have been considered the top joining methods for this piping material. But fusing requires installers to be properly trained and certified; in order to achieve a high-quality fuse, installers must be experts in pipe preparation and fusing techniques – including facing, scraping and cleaning of pipe ends, and fusing itself.

“Finding a certified installer is a challenge. While the war for talent continues to intensify as HDPE adoption increases, identifying qualified installers is also difficult.

“In a complicated regulatory and accreditation environment, it’s difficult to navigate the range of certification programs and accreditation schemes. A simple Google search for butt fusion and electrofusion training programs returns dozens of online results. The question is, how do you know your installer is truly certified?” said David Sharkey, Victaulic VP-GM of South Asia Pacific.

In this complex landscape, Victaulic, the world’s leading producer of mechanical pipe joining solutions, has developed a Watermark™ Approved mechanical joint for HDPE piping. The solution is set to increase installation efficiencies and overcome the certification requirements traditionally associated with HDPE fusion and installation.

Widely accepted for use on steel pipe, mechanical joining can be installed up to 10 times faster than fusing. With no special certifications required and minimal pipe preparation needed, mechanical joints can be installed through the simple act of tightening two bolts and nuts.

In traditional fusing practices, the expense of fusion equipment and the shortage of skilled installers can slow the pace of installation. In the event that equipment breaks, work may come to a complete standstill.

In stark comparison, mechanical joints eliminate the need for expensive fusing equipment, power sources or certified fusion installers. This means skilled workers can be deployed to more demanding areas of mining projects.

Additionally, without the need for complex equipment, mechanical joints can be quickly installed in tighter spaces and places that traditional fusing gear can’t reach.

With no need for fusion tents, no concerns about contamination of pipe ends, and no extra heating or cooling time during extreme weather, pipe installation processes become streamlined and hassle free. For mine sites located in some of Australia’s harshest environments, the ability to complete projects without weather delays will ensure both operational and cost benefits.

“As leaders in the mechanical joining business, we are extremely proud of the Victaulic Refuse-to-Fuse™ solution for HDPE pipe. We understand the mining industry is looking to create efficiencies in their workforce and operations, and mechanical joining answers this need. We’re excited by the potential benefits and savings that can be achieved by switching from fusion to mechanical joining in mining projects,” Mr. Sharkey said.

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